Reviews

I’m constantly trying new things, but I only review stuff that I actually use. That should help keep the clutter down and keep you focused on the best stuff out there. I hope these reviews are of benefit to you in your lifelong adventure of photographic fortune and glory.

SOFTWARE  |  CAMERAS  |  LENSES  | TRIPODS  | OTHER REVIEWS

Photo Software Reviews

Five pieces of software you should have

Additional Software you may find helpful

Photo Software Coupon Codes

I also have a complete list of the best coupon codes for photo editing software.

Camera Equipment Reviews

Below is a list of cameras I recommend that should work for any skill level or budget. In addition, I have a more complete list of Camera Lens Reviews that covers all the lenses I use for my photography.

Sony a5100 Mirrorless Camera

Good Camera: Sony a5100

Priced at under $450 for the body, this Sony mirrorless camera is highly recommended if your budget is keeping you at below the $500 level.

If budget is not a concern, I suggest you jump down to the “Better” or “Best” recommendations. However, if budget is your principal concern, then no worries; this Sony is the way to go! One great thing about it is that all the lenses that you get for this camera can also be used if and when you decide down the road to upgrade to the Sony a7R2 model below.

Better Camera: Sony a6300

Starting at below $999 for the body.

The A6300 is the latest evolution of the high end Sony APS-C models. It features, amongst other great features, enhanced autofocus speed and 4K movie recording. You can read my complete Sony a6000 review, it is the model the A6300 replaces and has many of the same specs. It was also the replacement for the Sony NEX-7, which I loved. The a6000 series has a number of advantages over the lower-priced a5000 models. It has a built-in electronic viewfinder, more focal points, and faster continuous shooting (11 fps vs 6 fps).

Best Camera: Sony a7RII

Starting at just under $3,200

A full-on Sony a7R Review is here on the site that is full of a ton of sample photos. I’m working on the Mark 2 review right now, but just know the main differences are that it is faster, 42 Megapixel (instead of 36), and, most importantly, it has in-body stabilization. AWESOME. This is currently my main camera. I absolutely love it. It has all the power of the giant DSLR systems at a fraction of the price and size. Its Full-Frame goodness combined with a small mirrorless form factor gives you everything you need. Plus, the camera smarts inside are absolutely insane. Check on the review there to see even more!

Wildcard 2nd Camera: Sony DSC-RX100 IV

Around $1,000

I LOVE this camera. It’s my quick one-camera camera! You can’t change lenses. It’s not full-frame. But it doesn’t matter. It’s an absolutely magical little camera. I love it so much that it will be my main camera at Burning Man this year… it’s also one of my street photography cameras. I don’t know the exact stats… but it’s like 16 photos per second. 20.1 megapixel. And it can even shoot 4K video, and slow motion 1080p at 960 FPS. What an amazing compact camera! If you have an extra $1,000 or so, just get it!!!

Camera Lenses

Sony a7R – First Three Lenses

Note these work for all the Sony A7 cameras! 🙂

  • Sony FE 24-70 f/4 (Amazon | B&H Photo) – A great mid-range lens the covers wide to mid-range zooming. See more on the Sony 24-70mm review.
  • Sony FE 24-240 f/3.5-6.3 (Amazon | B&H Photo) – This lens is great. What a range! It’s not super-fast, but that’s not a problem for me.
  • Sony FE 16-35 f/4 (Amazon | B&H Photo) – I’m so excited about this lens! This is the first full-frame wide angle lens that fits the eMount on the Sony a7 line of cameras.

Sony a7R – Other Goodies!

  • Sony Alpha Adaptor (Amazon | B&H Photo) – So that you can attach the other Sony full-frame Alpha lenses to your Sony a7R
  • Novoflex Leica Adaptor (Amazon | B&H Photo) – Fantastic for attaching any lens that uses the Leica lens mount. WARNING: Do not get the cheaper adapters. I tried them, thinking it was just a piece of metal, but it was not and many of my photos, especially at infinity, were out of focus. Check out my Leica Lens Buying Guide for more info.
  • Nikon F Lens Adaptor (Amazon | B&H Photo) – To hook up your Nikon DSLR lenses
  • Canon EF Adaptor (Amazon | B&H Photo) – To hook up your Canon DSLR lenses

Sony A5100 / A6300 Camera – Two Great Lenses

If you are just getting started and want recommendations on your first couple of lenses, here they are. Often times a camera will come with a “kit lens” that is pretty versatile and can get you a long way. The Sony a6300 comes with a 16-50mm lens that produces great pictures. But there are many lenses that are better for more specialized situations.

  • Sony 55-210mm (Amazon | B&H Photo) – This lens is a little big but its versatility is perfect for mid-range stuff like landscapes, birthdays, sports, etc.
  • Sony 10-18 F/4 (Amazon | B&H Photo) – A great lens that gives you maximum wide-angle flexibility for landscapes and architecture. To find out more, read my full Sony 10-18mm Lens Review. Note: This is also a great lens for the Sony A7r Mark 2, giving you the full range of 12-17mm. The edges get a bit ropy, but only hardcore camera nerds look at the edges.

What’s in my photo bag?

Come check out my Camera Bag page for more details!

Over the past year few years, I’ve been partnering with Peak Design to build five incredible camera bags. And now you can see more! See our current Kickstarter here and/or check out our first Everyday Messenger here!

Leica Lens Buying Guide

I’m really getting into using Leica lenses with the Sony a7R. You have to manually focus but you still get focus peaking and all of the other sweet features of the Sony mirrorless system. I’ve created a Leica Lens Buying Guide where I’ll chronicle what I learn and recommend.

More Lens Reviews

I only write reviews for lenses that I use and recommend.  Here is a complete list of camera lens reviews.

DJI Phantom and Inspire 1 Quadcopters

I recently got a quadcopter and I LOVE it! You can get amazing photos and videos from previously unattainable perspectives.

I have now upgraded to the Phantom 4 Pro and it is now my go-to Quadacopter (that’s what my daughter Scarlett calls them!). Here is my Phantom 4 Pro review.

Tripod Recommendations

I’ve recently switched tripods, then switched back, then switched again. I’m like the Caitlyn Jenner of tripods, and I’m not proud. But I’m ownin’ it girl.

  • High EndThe TQC-14 Tripod from RRS – I love this tripod. Again, I’ve switched around a lot… but this thing honestly fixes all the gripes I had with previous RRS tripods.
  • BudgetAny 3-Legged Thing Tripod – These are also nice tripods. Yes, they are still pricey but with good quality. There are some very inexpensive tripods out there, but they are so flimsy and you should not waste your time.

Other Reviews

  • Aweber Review – Email software that we use for our newsletter
  • ColorMunki Review – Helps to accurately calibrate the color of your monitors
  • HyperMac Review – Awesome external battery for Macs
  • MagCloud Review – Easily create print and digital books
  • RackSpace Review – This website and all of our others are hosted by Rackspace
  • Syrp Genie Review – a beautiful little device for time-lapse photography that automatically turns, pivots, and slides while taking the photo for you
  • Woopra Review – Great website analytics tools

Any questions about the nature of these reviews? Please visit my Ethics Statement. It’s all quite simple!

Here is a listing of my reviews. I try a lot of stuff and companies send me beaucoups of freebies to try (thanks y’all!), but I only post reviews of stuff I use and like. That should help keep the clutter down and keep you focused on the best stuff out there. I hope these reviews are of benefit to you in your lifelong adventure of photographic fortune and glory.

Photography Portfolio:

Software:

Cameras I recommend:

  • Good
    • The Nikon D90 – Approx $700-$900
    • The Nikon D90 with Excellent Starter Lens –18-105mm – Approx $1,100
    • Mini Review – I recommend this wonderful camera because it does auto-bracketing, can hold a variety of lenses, and is an amazing camera now and for the future.  You’ll be able to have this be your main body as you slowly build up a collection of lenses in the future, as you get to better know your camera.  It’s solid, shoots 12 megapixels, which is plenty big, and it even does video too!  My first camera was a D70, which no longer exists.  If I had the d90 first, I would have been in hog heaven!
  • Better
    • The Nikon D700 – Approx $2,400-$2,600
    • Mini Review – Now we are getting more serious! This is definitely a professional-grade camera. It’s big and tough and ready for battle. It’s got an amazing sensor — it’s still 12 megapixels like the d90, but it’s much higher quality in terms of speed and clarity. I know many photographers that have this camera and swear by it. If you already have one of the other Nikons and are looking to upgrade, you’ll be very happy with this thing. If you don’t want to spend over $5,000, then I think the D700 is certainly the best bang for your buck.
  • Best
    • The Nikon D3x – Approx $7,500 and up
    • Mini Review -See my Nikon D3X review for the full review!  It is my 24-megapixel love and it is the ultimate. I use it. It completes me. However, being realistic, I can tell you that it is only 10-20% (depending on the features you dig) better than the D700. That extra 10-20% will cost you a pretty penny, so my advice is to only do it if you have the extra cash, or this is a love where you have little willpower.
  • Best Backup Camera
    • The Nikon D3S– Approx $5,200 and up
    • Mini Review -See my Nikon D3S review for the full review! Once you get ultra serious, you don’t want to go on a big trip and only have one camera. Anything could happen. I hate to relegate the D3S to a backup camera, but that should not take anything away from this beautiful machine. The D3S is better than the D3X in low light and in high-speed situations. Another very nice thing is that it does high-def video.

First Three Lenses

If you are just getting started and want recommendations on your first three lenses, here they are.  Note that, often times, your camera may come with a “kit lens”.  That lens is usually pretty versatile and can get you a long way.  But, the beauty of DSLRs is that there are many lenses that are better for more specialized situations.

1) Nikon 14-24 Review (Lens) – A great wide-angle lens for landscapes and architecture that I use for about 60% of my landscapes

2) Nikon 24-70 Review (Lens) – Perfect for mid-range stuff like landscapes, birthdays, families, close-up sports, events, holiday cheer, swinger parties

3) Nikon 50mm Review (Lens) – Ideal for cute children, close-up objects where you like a blurry background, friends, interventions

All Lens Reviews

I only write reviews for lenses that I used and I recommend.   Below is the full list.

  • Want to try out a lens?  See my Lens Rental review of BorrowLenses.com – Netflix for lenses!
  • Nikon 18-200 – A great all-around lens for wide-angle and zoom.  Just getting started?  This is what you need! (Review coming soon)
  • Nikon 24-70 Review (Lens) – Perfect for mid-range stuff like landscapes, birthdays, families, close-up sports, events, holiday cheer, swinger parties
  • Nikon 14-24 Review (Lens) – A great wide-angle lens for landscapes and architecture that I use for about 60% of my landscapes
  • Nikon 85mm Review (Lens) – Incredible for people shots. Just. Incredible.
  • Nikon 50mm Review (Lens) – Ideal for cute children, close-up objects where you like a blurry background, friends, interventions
  • Nikon 70-200 Review (Lens) – A great lens for things that are kinda far away, like animals or sports or that girl you are stalking

My Equipment

Tutorials:

Other Stuff

Any questions about the nature of these reviews? Visit my Ethics Statement. It’s all quite simple!

  • I’m just curious if we can suggest subjects for tutorials (perhaps even for more detail in some step of an existing one) or offer videos (links?) of our own experiences/tricks with your currently reviewed software applications? It could get overwhelming though I imagine…

    Looking very forward to your future informational offerings!

  • Thanks!

    I do take suggestions… I can’t follow many of them up… as I use stuff, I generally put up a review if I think it is good! 🙂

  • kushal

    Thanks for this great. Had a fun-filled and extremely informative journey in you tutorial! Thanks a lot!

  • Frank

    Unbelievable stuff. I am just getting into HDR right now and have been using Dynamic-Photo HDR. Have you ever used this software and what are you opinions, if any, on the product? Thanks

  • Great Reading, thanks.

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  • Will you be moving to Nikon 16-35 and selling your 14-24. If you are and also keeping your 14-24 may I ask what you would use your 14-24 for.

  • Thomas

    I was trying to find some information on what size and make of SD(HD) memory cards you use and/or recommend? or some that you ‘recommend’ to avoid?
    I love your site, your reviews and your work.

    Well Done!

  • There is a typo at the bottom there 🙂
    “Games for iPhome”

  • Thanks!

    Trevor – I fixed that up.

    Thomas – I am working on a Hoodman review right now – search here on the page for that when it is avail!

  • Dave Burnet

    Hi Trey

    I ran across software called HDR Expose this weekend and am playing around with it. What are your thoughts?

    thanks,
    Dave

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  • I want the 14-24mm f2.8 lens! Only problem is that I have a D300S… is that a waste? I shoot our interior exhibit/museum work and working with a 12-24 f4 lens has been frustrating… always a bit soft in my opinion compared to my 35-85 that came with my first D100. I sent the lens back to Nikon and they “retooled” the optics, but I still feel it’s not sharp as it should be.

    The crispness and clarity is what I want. There will be a move to a D700 or higher eventually, but not imminent. Would I see the benefits of this lens even though I’m in DX? If it’s sharp, I’d be VERY happy. Or should I be looking at a fixed mm lens? Again, this is mostly for interior installations.

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  • Vincent Randal

    I don’t have a Sony NEX-7. Instead, I have owned a Sony NEX-5N for about two weeks, and the more I use it the more I find fault with it. Sony told me the primary difference is the NEX-7 has a 24 megapixel sensor and comes with a viewfinder. They forgot to mention the NEX-5N sensor has better low noise performance than the NEX-7.

    But I will return the NEX-5N for a full refund for the following reasons:

    1. In Continuous Bracket mode you can only shoot 3 images and you are limited to EV steps of 0.3 and 0.7

    2. In Auto-HDR mode the originals are deleted by the camera, but you do get much wider EV range choices than in Continuous Bracket mode.

    3. In Auto-HDR in bright sunlight the images are almost completely washed out.

    4. You have to manually adjust the Exposure Compensation by trial and error to fix washed out images in Auto-HDR mode.

    5. You can only use a remote or timer in single exposure mode.

    6. The NEX-7 has all the same problems as the NEX-5N and a noisier sensor in low light.

  • What is the application you use to do your screen captures for your tutorial videos?

  • ScreenFlow Pro

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  • mikenna

    it is so cool how close you can get to an object like the Kennedy Space Center!

  • Pete

    Trey I literally just bought a nex7 based mostly on your photos and recommendation. However, I haven’t used it yet (still on its way) and I’ve been reading a lot about the new nex6. My assumption was that the 6 was a step down from the 7 so I just went with the 7 but I’ve read a lot of people prefer it because of better focusing technology and how it handles high ISO. Have you had a chance to use the new 6? Since I can still exchange it do you think it’s worth switching out the 7 for the 6?

  • cool! this page is full of useful information!

  • Guest

    Hi Trey
    Lo

  • Ern

    Hello Trey
    Not sure if this is the correct location to thank you for the Wonderful 75 Lightroom preset sale. WOW! these are really all fantastic, They give my pictures so much life and punch even dull once luck pretty darn great. Thanks for all your hard work and for making me look like a pro.

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  • treyratcliff

    Thanks – and glad you like the presets!

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  • Anu

    Hi Trey,

    You have got a great website and amazing pics. I am like brand new to photography but my wife is pregnant and I wanted to make great videos and take some great shots of baby and her in the hospital.Which camera would you recommend ? My main aim like any other parent is to make great quality videos of our Baby girl. Any suggestions how I can make this work 🙂

    I really hope you can help me out because I am like very confused.

    Regards

    Anu

  • treyratcliff

    Hi @Anu ! I suggest you get the Good or the Better from my “Trey’s Gear” recommendations above. You’ll be set up! 🙂

  • treyratcliff

    Sorry for my mega-late response! Check my recommendations under “Trey’s Gear” and try to A6000! 🙂

  • Rjm

    Hey Trey!
    Was wondering what service you use for printing your art to canvas, if you have a favorite. Smugmug?

    Thanks,
    -Ross

  • Twit

    I thought SM used compression when you upload? somewhere on the web it was suggested that some sites dont allow true lossless photo upload / storage

  • ArnieW

    Do you like the Sony A7ii?

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  • Jim D

    Love your creativity and skill! It has inspired me to improve my own photographic skills. Being new to Ps,Lr and Photmatix I expect to avail myself of many of your tutorial offerings. it would be helpful if you would include your computer hardware setup under Trey’s Gear. I would be interested in monitors, cpu, memory and Gpu specs. Also laptop configuration.
    Thanks!
    Jim D

  • Interested in changing the future of photography?

    20+ 1-Click Styled Develop Presets + Bonus “Easy Adjust” Presets Collection.
    http://www.learnsphotoediting.net/p/coles-classroom.html

  • Pat A Jordan

    What’s up with personal cloud space??

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  • crahol

    Trey: have you used Easy HDR software?

  • crahol

    Trey: Why are you using a mirrorless camera? And why Sony instead of waiting for Canon to make a high end mirrorless camera?

  • Sales staff: if I buy Becoming an Artist, do I have access to all 15 at purchase, or one per week?

  • Hi Jerry,

    Sorry I missed this. When you purchase the entire season, you can download all episodes immediately.

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  • Kent Faith

    Hi Trey, we have affordable and good-quality camera accessories, such as tripod, backpack, lens filter, microphone, speedlite, etc. How can we apply to be your partner and get our products reviewed in this website?

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